Shrimp and Grits

Friday night’s Relay for Life in Grand Forks was a wonderful event. Not only did the weather cooperate, many, many people attended the fundraising event in support the of American Cancer Society.

An added bonus was all of the wonderful food that was available from a number of teams for a nominal donation. At one venue, Therese and I were treated to some tasty dill pickles dipped in — believe it or not — Jell-O mix. It was kind of a sweet-on-the-outside tart-on-the-inside snack. Another had mocha bars and some caramel corn puffs that were equally delicious.

But my favorite was the jambalaya that was being served up by Jon Dorner and Pat Healey, two Grand Forks friends of mine who are well-known in tailgating circles, especially before UND football games in the Alerus Center. The Southern delicacy that is very popular in New Orleans was loaded with peppers, chicken and spicy sausage. A large bowl for $2 was definitely a bargain.

Jon mentioned that it would have been nice to have some shrimp in the pot but that with many people having shellfish allergies, they decided against it.

That got me to thinking. I remembered that we had a bag of shrimp in the freezer that needed to be used soon. And today, when I came across a shrimp and grits recipe from Morgan Murphy, the former travel editor of Southern Living magazine, my problem was solved.

The recipe was from his new cookbook, “Off the Eaten Path: Favorite Southern Dives and 150 Recipes That Made Them Famous” (Oxmoor House, $21.95). The recipe is from one of his favorite restaurants, the Blue Heaven in Key West, Fla. As Murphy says in his introduction: “If you truly want to learn a place, eat the food of its people.”

Blue Heaven Shrimp and Grits
1/3 cup half-and-half
1½ teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
½ cup dry white wine
1½ pounds unpeeled large (21 to 25 count) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup chopped green onions
Cracked pepper
Additional cheese to garnish
Bring 4 cups water, the half-and-half and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in grits. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and set aside, covered.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add wine, bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in onions and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Spoon cheese grits into 4 bowls, top with shrimp mixture, sprinkle with cracked pepper and garnish, if desired, with more cheese.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 875 calories, 54 percent of calories from fat, 52.7 grams fat (31.7 grams saturated), 396 milligrams cholesterol, 49 grams protein, 45.7 grams carbohydrates, 1.6 grams fiber, 1,613 milligrams sodium.